“Whether you have ten pounds to lose or 100, the first thing you should do is create an environment for success,” says Chris Powell, the trainer who has helped hundreds of overweight people lose up to half their body weight on ABC’s reality series Extreme Weight Loss. These are the 40 things you need to do to up your odds of weight loss success:
1. HIDE YOUR VICES
Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry’s “top hits” could translate into serious calorie savings, according to researchers at Google. A study, conducted at the search engine’s New York office dubbed “Project M&M” found that placing chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones, and giving healthier snacks more prominent shelf space, curbed M&M consumption by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. Better yet, chow down on these 50 Snacks With 50 Calories or Less!
2. LET IN COLD AIR
Simply blasting the air conditioner or turning down the heat in winter may help attack belly fat while we sleep, according to a study published in the journal Diabetes. As it turns out, colder temperatures subtly enhance the effectiveness of our stores of brown fat—fat keeps you warm by helping you burn through the fat stored in your belly. Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the subjects had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat. (And yes, that means they lost belly fat.)
3. BUY SOME CANDLES
Certain scents can make your mouth water, and others can actually suppress your appetite. One study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine found that people who sniffed peppermint every two hours lost an average of 5 pounds a month! Banana, green apple, and vanilla had similar effects. Consider burning a minty candle until you head to bed to fill the room with slimming smells. If you don’t want to bother with blowing out candles before you turn down the covers, try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to your pillow
4. DITCH YOUR NIGHT LIGHT
Exposure to light at night doesn’t just interrupt your chances of a great night’s sleep, it may also result in weight gain, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Study subjects who slept in the darkest rooms were 21 percent less likely to be obese than those sleeping in the lightest rooms.
5. CLEAN OFF YOUR COUNTER
A new study by Eat This, Not That! magazine advisor Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, found that a woman’s weight can be estimated simply by taking a photo of her kitchen counter. After analyzing photos of 200 kitchens, he found that women who have soda sitting on their countertops weigh an average of 26 pounds more, while those who have cookies on their counters weigh about 8 pounds more. The biggest surprise: Keeping cereal on your counter leads to an additional 20 pounds of body weight. The lesson here is clear. Clean empty calories off your countertops to start losing weight.
6. KEEP PRODUCE IN PLAIN SIGHT
And after you remove the junk, replace it with a fruit bowl. You’re more likely to grab fruits and veggies over less healthy options if they’re readily available and right in front of you, expert say. Katie Cavuto MS, RD, the dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers, suggests keeping washed and prepared family-friendly veggies like cucumbers, peppers, sugar snap peas and carrots in the front of the fridge so they aren’t overlooked. Bananas, apples, pears and oranges fare well as sweet snacks and should be kept on the counter where you can see them
7. TOSS YOUR DINNER PLATES
According to Carolyn Brown, MS RD of Foodtrainers, “The bigger your plate, the bigger your meal.” Why? While smaller plates make food servings appear significantly larger, larger plates make food appear smaller, which can lead to overeating. In one study, campers who were given larger bowls served themselves and consumed 16 percent more cereal than those given smaller bowls. Swapping dinner for salad plates will help you eat more reasonable portions, which can help the pounds fly off your frame!
8. TAKE OUT YOUR SCALE
Just months after hitting your goal weight, your skinny jeans are starting to feel a tad tight. The reason? If you’re like the majority of dieters, you’re probably still eating well and exercising, but you stopped stepping on the scale—a major no-no. Although the number on the scale isn’t the only way to judge your continued success, research shows that those who avoid the ritual tend to pack on more weight than those who don’t. But there’s no need to be a slave to your scale. Checking in once a week should do the trick. Since weight naturally fluctuates throughout the week, researchers say that Wednesday weigh-ins are the most accurate.
9. DITCH THE MARGARINE
You know that light yellow color that makes margarine look almost indistinguishable from butter when laid side by side? Well, it’s far from natural. In fact, without all the additives, margarine is actually an appetite-crushing shade of grey—yuck! As if that weren’t bad enough, many brands add propylene glycol, the antifreeze compound, to their recipe to pile on the grease without adding calories. Research has shown that the spread may expand your waistline, increase dangerous cholesterol levels and up your heart disease risk
10. BUY BEANS & FIBER-RICH CARBS
You have 80 trillion microbes in your belly, and most of them are angry. Healthy fiber is what we call “prebiotic,” meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria and helps them fight inflammation and fat gain. Healthy, fiber rich sources of carbs like BPA-free canned black and garbanzo beans, peas, peanuts, peanut butter, old-fashioned oats, quinoa and brown rice.